JERUSALEM, Mar 21 – US President Barack Obama lost his first choice of wheels on Wednesday, after one of his hulking armoured limousines broke down in Israel.
The US Secret Service was forced to fly another vehicle in from Jordan where it was waiting for the US leader, who will travel to the neighbouring country on Friday after wrapping up his visit to the Jewish state.
“One of our protective vehicles experienced mechanical problems in Israel earlier today,” said Edwin Donovan, a secret service spokesman.
“This is why we bring multiple vehicles and a mechanic on all trips,” Donovan said, while saying the president’s itinerary was not affected by the breakdown, which happened before he arrived in Israel.
Some Israeli media reports suggested that the car conked out after it was filled with diesel fuel rather than gasoline, but Donovan said the Secret Service did not yet know what the problem was.
Obama uses a variety of bullet proof rides, including a design known as “The Beast” which is built by GM and is nominally a heavily remodelled Cadillac.
The Secret Service flies multiple presidential vehicles around the United States and across the world when Obama travels, using huge US Air Force transport planes which hop ahead of Air Force One.
The specifications of the car are kept secret, but there have been reports it has its own oxygen supply, carries hi-tech communications scrambling equipment and has special reinforced tyres and wheels.
It was not the first time that Obama had car trouble abroad.
In 2011, a presidential limo, which was a backup car and not “The Beast” got stuck on a bump as it left the US embassy in Ireland.